Late last week word came down that the Devil Rays front office would offer Julio Lugo a contract extension. This was announced only after negotiations between the Blue Jays and the Devil Rays appeared to reach an impasse. At the time we believed that the offer was merely a negotiating ploy by the Rays to loosen up the Blue Jays. Without any other apparent suitors for Lugo, there was no reason for Toronto to offer up the prospects that the Devil Rays were seeking. The negotiations between Lugo’s agent and Andrew Friedman appear to be no closer than those with the Blue Jays, strengthening our belief that the contract offer was a “token” offer on behalf of the team. We were beginning to believe that the Rays were going to be content to let Lugo remain with the team for the rest of the season and let him leave this winter via free agency. In doing so, Tampa would be awarded an extra draft pick at the end of the first round in 2007.
Now word is coming down the wire that other teams are getting involved in the pursuit of Julio Lugo. We still don’t believe that the Mets are seriously considering Lugo (although they may be interested in one or two of the Rays pitchers). Now the frontrunner may be the Boston Red Sox, but not to play shortstop. Rather the Red Sox want Lugo to play second base and it is believed that the only thing holding up the deal is getting Lugo to agree to play second base.
The wild card team may be the Houston Astros. Apparently, the ‘Stros have their sights set on Miguel Tejada, but if that falls through, they may change their attention to Lugo. The two teams have already shown that they can work out a deal as evidenced by the Aubrey Huff deal just recently. Also, because of the Huff deal, the Rays already know the Houston farm system a little better than some other teams and may have their sights set on one or two players.
Yesterday we would have bet that Lugo was staying in Tampa and leaving as a free agent. Now the odds are more likely that a deal will get done before 4 pm tomorrow and Lugo will playing for somebody else on Tuesday.